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ARISTIPPUS (c. 435-356 B.C.), Greek philosopher, the founder
of the Cyrenaic school, was the son of Aritadas, a merchant of
Cyrene. At an early age he came to Athens, and was induced
to remain by the fame of Socrates, whose pupil he became.
Subsequently he travelled through a number of Grecian cities,
and finally settled in Cyrene, where he founded his school.
His philosophy was eminently practical (see Cyrenaics).
Starting from the two Socratic principles of virtue and happiness,
he emphasized the second, and made pleasure the criterion
of life. That he held to be good which gives the maximum
of pleasure. In pursuance of this he indulged in all forms of
external luxury. At the same time he remained thoroughly
master of himself and had the self-control to refrain or to enjoy.
Diogenes Laertius (ii. 65), quoting Phanias the peripatetic, says
that he received money for his teaching, and Aristotle (Met. ii. 2)
expressly calls him a sophist. Diogenes further states that he
wrote several treatises, but none have survived. The five
letters attributed to him are undoubtedly spurious. His
daughter Arete, and her son Aristippus (μητροδίδακτος, “pupil
of his mother”), carried on the school after his death. A
cosmopolitan on principle, and a convinced disbeliever in the
ethics of his day, he comes very near to modern empiricism and
especially to the modern Hedonist school.
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